Argentina corn harvest delayed by flooding

Bulk of crop now expected in May, June

Argentina is now expected to harvest the bulk of its corn crop in May and June due to excessive flooding, delaying a season that farmers say will already produce 20 percent less product than initially forecast, according to reports. The combination of a late harvest and less product will contribute to the ongoing high global food prices carrying over from the U.S. drought that left supplies down in the summer.

“May and June will be the peak harvesting months this season,” said Martin Fraguio, executive director of Argentine corn industry chamber Maizar. “The total 2012–2013 harvest looks like it will be somewhere between 25 and 28 million metric tons.” Genetically modified seeds will help offset the late planting some, say farmers, who are hoping for the ground to dry out enough for December planting. Only half of the 3.4 million hectares expected to be sown with the 2012–2013 corn in Argentina has been seeded so far, down 12 percent from the previous season.

When bad weather hits, farmers tend to switch from corn to soy, which is cheap to plant and more resistant to adverse weather conditions. However, the extent to which the soy crop will rise in the coming year won’t be known for another month, say growers. “A lot of acreage will just stay flooded this year, so it won’t go to corn or soybeans,” said farmer Santiago del Solar.